Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles)

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles)

Penang Hokkien Mee is a popular prawn broth noodle dish from Penang, Malaysia. Get the recipe here for the umami-rich soup and the special sambal that goes with it.

0 stars

Preparation 60 mins
Cooking 100 mins

Main, Soup

Hae Mee, Har Meen

Malaysian

Nyonya Cooking on Facebook
Nyonya Cooking on Pinterest
Nyonya Cooking on Twitter

Be the first to take a snap! Log in and navigate to Add Food Snap in the top bar.

Penang Hokkien mee or Hae Mee, as known to the locals, is a soupy yellow egg noodle dish with prawns. Popular in Penang, Malaysia, the broth of these noodles has a rich prawn flavour.

The Best Prawn Noodles Recipe
The Best Prawn Noodles Recipe

Street hawkers sell this soup noodle dish from morning till usually in the evenings. Accompanied with boiled egg, kangkung (water spinach), bean spouts, fried shallots and the special sambal, each bite delivers an orchestra of flavours.

Why This Recipe Works?

This recipe is a detailed step-by-step guide to make prawn noodles from scratch. Using prawn shells and heads to make the broth is no secret.

Best Way to Use Prawn Heads and Shells
Best Way to Use Prawn Heads and Shells

A prawn noodle seller once shared how many forgot the use of pork bones to create the depth of flavours. The bones and fat from the pork absolutely add a sweet node to the broth.

Boil Pork with Bones to Remove Impurities
Boil Pork with Bones to Remove Impurities

Most importantly, we will explore the recipe of the sambal (chilli paste) which is made specially to accompany the broth and as a condiment for extra spiciness.

What Is the Difference Between Penang & KL Hokkien Mee?

First of all, the colours are very telling! Kuala Lumpur (KL) Hokkien mee is black in colour due to the caramel dark soy sauce used. It is also not soupy and is a braised noodle dish which has no prawn flavours.

KL Hokkien Noodles
KL Hokkien Noodles

As you already know, Penang Hokkien mee has a bright red-orange coloured soup. It does not use any dark soy sauce.

The choice of noodles used are also very different. KL’s version commonly uses tai lok mee or thick wheat noodles that are synonym to the dish.

Penang’s dish can be served with yellow noodles (similar to spaghetti) or rice vermicelli and sometimes, a combination of both.

Is Penang Hokkien Mee Spicy?

A little. The spiciness can be reduced by using lesser chili paste (cili boh) in Step 7. Another tip is to blend fresh red chillies into a paste which are less spicy compared to dried chilies.

If you are making chili paste from scratch, do boil and remove the membrane of the dried chillies before blending. Don’t forget to add a splash of vinegar too. Follow this guide to make the chili paste from scratch.

Boil Dried Chilies to Remove Spiciness
Boil Dried Chilies to Remove Spiciness

Where Does Penang Hokkien Mee Originate From?

The name of the dish explains that it is most probably brought in by Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province in China. Yellow alkaline noodles which are usually used is also close to the Fujian cuisine.

In fact, you will find a similar dish in China called Xiamen prawn noodles while Taiwan has Danzai noodles (Ta-a mi). Both noodles have a distinctive shrimp based broth.

Taiwan Danzai (L); Xiamen Prawn Noodles (R)
Taiwan Danzai (L); Xiamen Prawn Noodles (R)
(Credit to Xmgbuy and Wpcpey via Wikimedia Commons.

Penangnites added their own twist using local ingredients like chili paste and Chinese water spinach resulting in a dish we all love.

Tips to Making the Best Prawn Noodle Soup

You need a lot of prawn heads to make the flavourful prawn broth. In our Curry Laksa recipe, prawn heads and shells are sautéed for its flavour as well. Here are some tips I have gathered through my experience when preparing this dish.

All The Ingredients for The Best Prawn Noodle Soup
All The Ingredients for The Best Prawn Noodle Soup

1. Prawn heads are important for their flavour.

You can use any type of prawns. Medium or large sized ones would be the best. Once sautéed in oil, they release a beautiful orange pigment. Sautéing Prawn Heads If you are making another dish like chili garlic prawns or sambal udang, it is best to freeze the unused prawn heads and use them to make this broth.

2. Use pork ribs or pork bones.

No lean meat such as pork tenderloin because it gets tough once it is overcooked. Below is an example when using a leaner piece of pork. Not Recommended: Overcooked Dry Pork We also want the taste of the bones making the broth fuller in flavour. A good substitute will be fresh chicken carcass or from the rotisserie.

3. Never skip sambal in the broth.

It is crucial for the intensity of flavour and colour. Penang Hokkien Mee is of recognized by the colour of the broth. Without the sambal in the broth would mean something was definitely lacking.

Sambal Ready To Use
Sambal Ready To Use

Prawn Mee Sambal Recipe

The sambal is made using chili paste (cili boh) as a base. Onions make it sweeter. Additional sugar may be added if you like it sweeter.

The fermented taste of belacan (fermented shrimp paste) adds more umami to the sambal. If you don’t have it, stir in one or two teaspoons of fish sauce in Step 6.

Lastly, use enough oil to sauté the blended chili, onions and garlic. Don’t skimp on the oil.The paste has to be cooked until the oil separates. It’s a process called ‘pecah minyak’ in Malay which means breaking/splitting of oil.

Oil Is Clearly Separated From Chili Paste
Oil Is Clearly Separated From Chili Paste

The chili paste will taste raw if it is not cooked thoroughly.

Why Isn’t my Broth as Red?

The beautiful redness in the broth is from the red sambal oil. You may reduce the oil for the sambal by half if you don’t like it too oily.

Orangey Red Prawn Noodles Broth
Orangey Red Prawn Noodles Broth

Toppings

All toppings must be blanched before plating. Simply boil a pot of water and cook bean sprouts, Chinese water spinach (kangkung), fish cakes and prawns. Sprinkle some shredded pork meat too.

Same goes to the noodles too. Fresh noodles will need to be blanched for a while, not more than 5 seconds. Dried noodles need to be hydrated before using and then blanched before plating.

Shredded Meat From the Boiled Porkin the Broth
Shredded Meat From the Boiled Porkin the Broth

You can play around with the toppings and condiments according to your preference. For example, replace the vegetables with bok choy or other leafy greens.


Ingredients

Servings:  
1
red onion(s)
4
garlic clove(s)
2,800 ml
water
250 g
pork bones
1⁄2 cup
oil
6
shallot(s)
10 g
shrimp paste (dried)
1⁄2 cup
chilli paste (cili boh)
2 1⁄2 tsp
salt
4 tbsp
sugar
200 g
prawn shells
100 g
bean sprouts
100 g
Chinese water spinach
200 g
yellow noodles
100 g
rice vermicelli noodles
20
prawns
2
fish cake
4
egg(s)

Steps to Prepare

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 1

Step 1 of 13

    • 1 red onion(s)
    • 4 garlic clove(s)

Blend onions and garlic into a fine paste. Set aside.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 2

Step 2 of 13

    • 1,000 ml water
    • 250 g pork bones

In a pot, add water and pork bones directly. Cook for 5-6 minutes over high heat to remove impurities. Once the scum appears on the surface, remove the pork from the pot. Discard water.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 3

Step 3 of 13

    • 1⁄2 cup oil
    • 6 shallot(s)

In a separate pot, add oil to fry the sliced shallots for 5 minutes on low heat or till golden brown. Remove fried shallots and set aside. Do not discard oil.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 4

Step 4 of 13

In the same pot, add the shrimp paste and fry it for one minute over low heat.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 5

Step 5 of 13

    • 1⁄2 cup chilli paste (cili boh)

Carefully sauté the blended onion and garlic paste for 30 seconds. Then, add chili paste to cook for 5 minutes over medium to low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 6

Step 6 of 13

    • 1⁄2 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp sugar

Stir in the sugar and salt. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes over medium to low heat. Ensure that the sugar, salt and shrimp paste are fully incorporated.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 7

Step 7 of 13

Once done, the oil will float on the top and separates from the chili paste. Scoop the sambal into a clean bowl. Leave the excess oil in the pot.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 8

Step 8 of 13

    • 200 g prawn shells

In the same pot, cook the prawn heads and shells for 5 minutes over medium to high heat or until water evaporates for more intense flavours.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 9

Step 9 of 13

    • 500 ml water

Turn off the heat. Add water into the pot. Blend prawn heads and shells coarsely.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 10

Step 10 of 13

    • 1,300 ml water

Then, add more water into the pot. Add the boiled pork bones. Allow the broth to boil with the lid on for 60 minutes on medium to low heat. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 11

Step 11 of 13

Remove pork bones from the broth and set them aside. Strain the broth with a fine mesh colander. Discard the prawn shells.

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 12

Step 12 of 13

    • 2 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp sugar

Pour the strained broth back into the pot. Add 0.5 cups of sambal. Add salt and sugar to season. Stir and simmer for another 15 minutes

Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Noodles) Step 13

Step 13 of 13

    • 100 g bean sprouts
    • 100 g Chinese water spinach
    • 200 g yellow noodles
    • 100 g rice vermicelli noodles
    • 20 prawns
    • 2 fish cake
    • 4 egg(s)

Prepare toppings by boiling a pot of water over medium heat. Once the water boils, blanch water spinach and bean sprouts for a few seconds. Then, add fish cakes and prawns to blanch for 3-4 minutes or until cooked. Boil eggs for at least 6 minutes. Remove the shell and halve the eggs.

Lastly, cook noodles according to the packaging. For fresh or hydrated noodles, blanch them for 2-3 minutes. Assemble the dish by preparing a portion of noodles, adding soup onto it and completing it with some toppings.

Published: June 24, 2023


1 Discussions

kmleong
6 months ago

kmleong

I will definitely give this a try... Look so Authentic. The best prawn mee I eaten is one with fried big prawns as the MAIN ingredient(Prawn mee ma...) and pork slice, kangkong and half stew hard boil egg. That was in the old days... NOW the prawn mee you can eat mostly in shop need magnifying glass to see the prawns and the MAIN ingredient is fish cake. If you a lucky, you may get a slice or two of pork meat. It shouldn't be call Prawn mee (As it brought shame to it Name). It should call Fish Cake mee. hehe! Just expressing myself. Misses so much if those famous authentic hawker foods. Now is just variations after variations.

Give us your opinion! Log in and start posting.